FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis attend the 1
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Outgoing US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has signed an order to withdraw US troops from Syria, a Defense Department spokesman said Monday. He followed a decision by President Donald Trump, who contributed to the resignation of Mattis last week.
The expected signing took place after Trump announced on Sunday that he would replace Mattis two months earlier than expected. This, according to the president, was fueled by the rage of the president over a plea of his foreign policy contained in Matti's resignation letter.
"The execution order for Syria has been signed," said a Defense Department spokesman in an email to Reuters, which did not specify any details.
Officials have warned against a timeline, but the withdrawal could start in a few weeks. A senior official said a plan was being worked on.
On Wednesday, Trump reported that he had withdrawn US troops from Syria, citing US military life and taxpayers' money.
Mattis, whose embrace of the traditional alliances of NATO and America often confronted him with Trump, had advised against the withdrawal of Syria – one of the reasons for his resignation.
Mattis is valued by Republicans and Democrats alike, and his departure has fueled concerns over what many consider Trump's unpredictable solo effort for global security.
In his letter of resignation, Mattis had announced he would resign at the end of February to allow the confirmation of a successor and participation in congressional hearings and an important NATO meeting.
But Trump, angered by the attention Mattis' letter received, said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan would become acting deputy from January 1.
Reporting by David Morgan and Idrees Ali; Editing by Bill Trott